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New heights: Mountain Club founders Jason Wilby, left, and Chris Davern in their new Beach St premises

By PHILIP CHANDLER

While so many Queenstown businesses are retrenching, at least one’s doing the opposite
and finding a new niche for its offering.

Co-working space company Mountain Club, which set up at Five Mile just over a year ago,
lost half its members during the Covid-19 lockdown.

However, it’s rebounded with more members than ever, doubled its Five Mile floor area
to about 800 square metres, after a neighbouring tenancy fell over, and added another 500sqm venue in the CBD.

Founders Chris Davern and Jason Wilby say the lockdown convinced many out-of-towners
they could work remotely, so why not in Queenstown, where they don’t need to spend hours a week commuting.

But, Wilby says, what people want from a work space is also changing.

‘‘Previously, a work space was an office and a computer and a desk, and now, what I think
we’re seeing from Covid, is you can work from anywhere but what people want is human contact.

“They want the fun thing, they want to come out and have a coffee a couple of times a week and meet some colleagues and spark some ideas.’’

In the Mountain Club ‘community’, members tap each other for advice.

Davern: ‘‘The other thing that’s so surprising is post-Covid we’ve seen members who were
working in tourism creating new non-tourism-related businesses, and learning from other
members.

‘‘I think this feels like a beating new heart of the Queenstown economy.’’

Davern says with membership starting at $190 a month, they’re helping people start up businesses as they don’t have to commit to all the overheads they’d need to if they leased
office space.

They’ve also employed a community and wellbeing manager — an international CrossFit coach — to take fitness training and the like, and have boardroom space and an acoustic pod for recording.

scoop@scene.co.nz